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Pasini A.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
Journal of Thoracic Disease

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are usually considered as tools which can help to analyze cause-effect relationships in complex systems within a big-data framework. On the other hand, health sciences undergo complexity more than any other scientific discipline, and in this field large datasets are seldom available. In this situation, I show how a particular neural network tool, which is able to handle small datasets of experimental or observational data, can help in identifying the main causal factors leading to changes in some variable which summarizes the behaviour of a complex system, for instance the onset of a disease. A detailed description of the neural network tool is given and its application to a specific case study is shown. Recommendations for a correct use of this tool are also supplied. © Journal of Thoracic Disease. Source

Piccarreta M.,dellUniversita e della Ricerca | Lazzari M.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Pasini A.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
International Journal of Climatology

Changes in annual and seasonal temperatures were studied from 18 stations, distributed all over the Basilicata region (southern Italy), for the 1951-2010 period. The analysis is based on high-quality and homogenous daily minimum and maximum temperatures. Both minimum (Tmin) and maximum (Tmax) temperatures increase, especially after 1971. Seasonal results show upward trends in Tmin in winter, spring and summer, whereas they show downward trends in Tmin in autumn, especially in the last normal 1981-2010. Tmax also shows upward trends in spring and summer, whereas it tends to decrease during winter and autumn. The intra-annual extreme temperature range (ETR) index also shows a general positive trend, especially during spring. Eleven indices were used to assess the changes in both the cold and warm tails of the daily temperature distribution. The presence of trends was assessed by means of the Mann-Kendall test. The results reveal a general upward tendency on warm days (TX90), warm nights (TN90) and tropical nights (T20) especially because of an increase in temperature after 1971. This datum is fully confirmed in summer which is the season mainly responsible for this trend. The annual occurrence of summer days (SU) and very warm days (TX99) is weakly increasing. The majority of cold extremes, i.e. very cold nights (TN1), cold days (TX10), cold nights (TN10), frost days (FD) and ice days (ID) showed negative trends, thus confirming the overall warming trend in the Basilicata region. This negative trend could stem from the strong increase of Tmin during winter, spring and summer. © 2015 Royal Meteorological Society. Source

Kocman D.,Jozef Stefan Institute | Horvat M.,Jozef Stefan Institute | Pirrone N.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research | Cinnirella S.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
Environmental Research

Global mercury emission inventories include anthropogenic emissions, contributing via current use or presence of mercury in a variety of products and processes, as well as natural source emissions. These inventories neglect the contribution of areas contaminated with mercury from historical accumulation, which surround mines or production plants associated with mercury production or use. Although recent studies have shown that releases of mercury from these historical sites can be significant, a database of the global distribution of mercury contaminated sites does not exist, nor are there means of scaling up such releases to estimate fluxes on a regional and global basis. Therefore, here we estimated for the first time the contribution of mercury releases from contaminated sites to the global mercury budget. A geo-referenced database was built, comprising over 3000 mercury contaminated sites associated with mercury mining, precious metal processing, non-ferrous metal production and various polluted industrial sites. In the assessment, mercury releases from these sites to both the atmosphere as well as the hydrosphere were considered based on data available for selected case studies, their number, the reported extent of contamination and geographical location. Annual average global emissions of mercury from identified contaminated sites amount to 198 (137-260) Mgyr-1. Of that, 82 (70-95)Mgyr-1 contribute to atmospheric releases, while 116 (67-165) Mgyr-1 is estimated to be transported away from these sites by hydrological processes. Although these estimates are associated with large uncertainties, our current understanding of mercury releases from contaminated sites indicates that these releases can also be of paramount importance on the global perspective. This is especially important as it is known that these sites represent a long-term source of releases if not managed properly. Therefore, the information presented here is needed by governments and NGO's in order to re-focus resources in making decisions regarding mitigation and remediation strategies on a global level. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. Source

Pasini A.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research | Modugno G.,University of Turin
Atmospheric Science Letters

At the regional scale, enhanced climatic variability masks the role of external forcings. It has been shown that a consistent attribution of regional temperature behaviour can be achieved just by considering circulation patterns as driving elements. Here we address this question: is the role of external forcings completely hidden in the changes of circulation patterns (eventually induced by them), or is there evidence of a more direct role for these forcings? Performing a fully nonlinear analysis shows that a direct role for anthropogenic forcings can be detected also at this regional scale, while natural forcings do not seem to influence temperature behaviour. © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society. Source

Whitmarsh D.,University of Portsmouth | Palmieri M.G.,CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
Aquaculture Research

The growth of aquaculture has been accompanied by controversy over the sustainability of many of the practices used in fish farming. Public attitudes towards aquaculture are unlikely to have been untouched by this, and there seems little doubt that the social acceptability of the industry is shaped by people's perception of its environmental record. What is less clear, however, is how far such perceptions influence consumer behaviour. This paper reports on a survey of public attitudes towards salmon farming in Scotland, which inter alia collected data on the frequency of salmon purchases. The results show that purchasing is influenced by both context and attribute variables, including environmental preferences. Specifically, it was found that increased concern over the environmental performance of the salmon farming industry is associated with a lower propensity to purchase salmon. The findings pose a number of challenges for the aquaculture industry, not least in the area of marketing. © 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

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